Hitman: Absolution interview: director Tore Blystad on killing Diana and pleasing fans
OPM: Can you talk about the Instinct mode? It’s been a divisive feature.
TB: The Instinct feature is basically giving you a heads-up of where the bad guys are – what are they predicted to do if you don’t interfere? – so you can get some kind of headstart on them. So if you’re infiltrating an area where you’re not supposed to be, you can see that someone’s coming and, ‘Fine, I’ll hide then and wait.’ And you can see their paths: ‘Okay, he will come and find me’ or ‘He will just brush past me’. And then you can choose to take him out or not.
It started coming from the team itself, and then it’s been built up over the last period of time into taking over a lot of the map functions. You can say with the original Hitman games that the map function there was extremely powerful, where you could sit basically anywhere in the level and see all of what was going on with the NPCs. Of course you had to go out of this mode, so you were a little bit vulnerable, but it was still a kind of God mode. The Instinct feature, if you compare [the two], is actually less powerful than that, but it gives you all the immediate information you need in the area around you.
OPM: Diana, 47’s handler, is a large part of the series. Was it a big deal killing her off?
TB: It’s been a really big decision – a big talking point within IO, as well. So many strong emotions about it. It’s been debated for thousands of hours, probably. It’s been back and forth. It was a tough decision for many people, because they felt really sorry for her that she had to die.
OPM: Was there ever a point where she wasn’t going to die?
TB: A very long time ago, probably, but to bring emotion to a character like 47 it needs something really devastating to kind of shake him up. It was a tough decision.
OPM: There have been four games – why make such a big decision like this now?
TB: Maybe it’s more about the way the levels are structured rather than his emotional side. If you look at him, he’s always been told what to do, more been on other people’s missions [than his own]. So making this his game and about his decisions – enabling him to create the briefings on his own instead of having someone tell him what to do all the time – was the starting point, because then it would feel like the player was a bigger part of creating the story. And this emotional side is very closely attached to that. For him to have a reason to do something, there needs to be some sort of emotion behind it.